Best

  1. Bodily functions like burping and farting are considered the norm. It’s fine to make such noises during moments of silence.
  2. Almost everything these days is “Made in China”. If you can find the factory for what you’re after, you’re bound to get it cheap.
  3. If you’re a Westerner outside of Beijing, you can see what it’s like to live the life of a celebrity… in terms of being stared at and asked to be in photographs. You may find next time you see a celebrity you won’t ask for their autograph or a picture.
  4. Land transport is very very cheap in China. Buses 1 RMB (~10p), Subway 2 RMB (~20p) and high speed trains dirt cheap compared to planes.
  5. Getting a local sim is easy and cheap. There are mobile shops everywhere and txts/calls are negligible. Data plans are common on pay-as-you-go sim cards too.

 

Worst

  1. Entering into the country is too difficult. You need to have flights, accommodation and an itinerary proof in order to get the visa. If the visa gets declined, you’re stuck with (probably) non-refundable bookings. Having it arranged in Hong Kong by an agency is known to be the simplest way.
  2. Kids have the right to pee and defecate anywhere on the street. So much so, they’ve even design trousers to make it as easy as possible to do it without a parent needing to be around. Careful where you tread.
  3. The language is difficult to learn. Regional variations (Mandarin, Cantonese etc.. and thick accents outside of the cities), an alphabet of pictorial characters instead of letters, a heavy reliance on context with exact sounding words meaning different things, words spoken with varying tones meaning different things and difficult pronunciation even with a word written down in western letters.
  4. Snorting and spitting anywhere is common. It feels like you get more points the closer your spit lands next to someone. I’ve seen people just spit over their shoulder indoors plenty of times.
  5. Most of the internet (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger) is banned in China by an annoying firewall. You’ll need to set up some special configuration on your laptop/phone if you want to stay in touch with society whilst you’re away.